In my opinion when loving yourself, you get to know yourself, and in knowing yourself you love yourself more. It is a joyous cycle, mostly. So maybe not always; sometimes we get angry or disappointed with ourselves just like when a friend might upset us.
Let’s look briefly at a loving relationship. There are times when we let each other down by not meeting the ‘other’ but generally as we make ourselves vulnerable in order to be known by the ‘other’ we not only open ourselves up to feelings of risk and fears of rejection but we also open ourselves to being loved more. Part of loving is accepting the ‘other’, warts and all. And it is the same with ourselves: we can’t ever know ourselves fully but if we are honest with ourselves and accept ourselves with our short comings and successes we have a chance of knowing ourselves more honestly.
You might think ‘it is easier said than done’ and you are right. I would be conning you if I said it was an easy process or journey but it is made easier if you have someone to accompany you and ‘walk the road with you’ so to speak. It might be that, as children growing up, we lived with circumstances that created a love deficit as often parents have not been perfectly loved themselves and find it hard to model love perfectly. We then grow up feeling that deficit and land up not knowing how to love ourselves because it wasn’t modelled to us. This is why it is a good idea to find someone that can model the loving kindness and acceptance that you need; like mentor, counsellor or caring friend.
when we begin the process of self-care we fear finding something dark, ugly or even monstrous secret lurking in the shadows of our minds and souls as when we open up to others. We may be afraid of discovering or facing up to them; afraid we’ll be too challenged or suffer the consequences of finding out some dark secret. I know what it feels like: for me, years ago, I was terrified of seeing the worst ugly stuff, and feeling as if it was going to annihilate me and then I would be shamed, and rejected. What I found out as I dove into the cave of toxic waste I kept hidden – was that I didn’t vaporize. I didn’t reject myself. It was an opportunity to love myself. I did feel a lot of pain, immense pain, but I learnt to hold myself in the pain and ride the wave of emotions. My emotions reached a crescendo and then dissipated. In my experience holding the pain is a bit like holding a baby or vulnerable animal that is wounded; it needs to be held gently but firmly so that they know they are safe.
Emotional pain comes in different forms and often manifests in the body as illness or pain, mine often feels like an immense uncontrollable pain in my body from my abdomen right to the top of my head; there’s usually tension in the pit of my stomach, chest or head. Sometimes it is in my throat as if I want to express something but can’t. Other times it is a mental and emotional pain which hounds me in the night as anxiety or when I am on my own with thousands of critical or judgemental thoughts.
Self-sabotage is also very real. This is hard to tolerate so when I say that loving yourself is a joyous cycle – sometimes it is not a joyous cycle to begin with, but a painful cycle which develops into a joyous cycle the longer you persevere in holding those intolerable feelings. This is what accepting yourself is about: Embracing yourself in totality along with the ugliness and the pain until love vanquishes the feelings. And this is what I mean when I say the more you know yourself the more you love your self – you get the opportunity to love more, but you can only really do this if you are honest with yourself. That’s what walking in the light means. Honesty brings with it the opportunity for healing, joy and acceptance.
Are you able to feel loved by others? Are you able to love yourself?
A warm smile,